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How do I "break out" of Pro-Bono work.?

I am looking to get my freelance business off the ground. I've registered myself as a freelance writer but I keep getting asked to do pro-bono work. How do I "break" out of this and start being a successful Freelance Writer.

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I would finish out your projects and then start saying "no". Set your standards and value, and don't be afraid to walk away. Those high-quality clients will be willing to pay you. Demand of the universe what you desire and don't lower your standards! Have faith!


Hi Emily,

Make sure you are following up with the clients you are doing Pro Bono work for. If you have given them quality content in the past for free, they will be more likely to hire you in the future.


Go out and get them! Make the calls, set up a site and start calling/emailing. Don't wait for people to call you. Also make sure all your FB friends know your doing this for a living now and see if they can help with leads.

Hi Ron,
Thank you for your response. I have been doing that but with little luck.

There are literally hundreds of magazines always needing written content. Are you working on getting something published?


Taper off the pro-bono work. Get references from your past clients and market yourself with the references to get paid work. Rajesh has a nice answer.


Well, what you can do is keep working your way out like you are ! let them say what they are saying reach out to the users who are looking for freelance writer every time you write something for someone it will be added as your pro bono work ! :D


You might find success with "The New Way to Hire Great Freelancers." You have to pay to play but the cost seems reasonable. It is $16.99 to $26.99 per month for 20 to 40 credits over a 6-month subscription. And they offer a guarantee of sorts. All of the subscriptions also include the Outsource.com Guarantee which guarantees that you will find work during the 6 month subscription, or you will receive another 6 months free. See www.outsource.com for details.

Also check out "9 Online Gold Mines for Finding Paid Freelance Writing Jobs" by Kelly Gurnett at http://thewritelife.com/find-freelance-writing-jobs/#iuERHC:R1t. Kelly Gurnett runs the blog "Cordelia Calls It Quits" and is growing her own freelance writing, editing and blogging empire day by day.
- The Pragmatic Web Designer

Anonymous User

It is better to create a layered or differentiated approach. There is reflective writing or introductory writing that does not require much of a detailed thinking, research or time commitment - position that work as Pro-Bono.

And stuff that requires serious thinking, time and effort commitment - you should put your price tag and ask for it.

You certainly do not want to create an image of yourself as 'as someone who works for free'- and doing that for too long a time does not help your cause. At the same time, people do expect free stuff, thanks to easy access through internet. So , a layered approach becomes a workable strategy.

Anonymous User

Dont let people take advantage of your altruism. Charge what youre worth for every project you take on. People equate price with value - ie, the more expensive the better you must be. Check out the pricing and marketing 2015 book its like 35 bucks and it will give you a good idea of costs etc. Consider AIGA or the Graphics Guild listings.


I agree with Jennifer Fortney. You need to learn to say "no".

Whether or not saying "no" will achieve what you wish (get paid for your work) depends on the simple Law of Supply and Demand. If there are thousands of freelancers willing to work for free, you're going to not succeed unless you can differentiate yourself from the pack.

Let me put it another way. Suppose someone were to go into the business of providing air for people to breathe. Why would anyone in their right mind buy air when they can get it for free?

Now, suppose that person were to start selling gold instead? It's the same story, really, except for the fact that gold is a rare commodity.


This may sound silly, but maybe the use of the word 'freelance' indicates what it say...free. You are a writer for hire...But the only way to break out of it, is to say No (as noted below from others). Now, you may set up criteria and a goal for yourself that you accept a certain number of pro-bono work within a year...but that is it. You can then use that when asked for free work.

You charging or not for your work will speak volumes to others about the value you feel of yourself, and whether you are deserving to be paid for your expertise. You are deserving, and you have to now position yourself with services, rates and firm conviction in your sales presentation to support that belief. Whether you broadcast your rates anywhere or not (I do not), it is in the communication and negotiation where you message the value you bring to your customers in the writing you do, and that justifies being paid for it. If they don't like it, oh well, you move on and find the work and customer who deserves you.

This is not about others wanting it to be free, it is about YOU accepting that or not.

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